Stephan M. Minikes
Stephan M. Minikes
United States ambassador to OSCE
Interview in the OSCE Magazine, October 2004
On OSCE observers to the USA presidential election 2004
[In response to the question: "Some commentators in the United States have been critical of Washington s decision to invite ODIHR to observe the presidential election. How would you respond?"]
"First and foremost, I would say that the United States takes its OSCE commitments seriously; in line with these, we are obligated to invite OSCE observers. We can hardly expect other participating States to abide by their commitments to the Organization if we do not abide by ours. It s as simple as that.
"Second, election observation in established democracies provides invaluable experience to monitors who might not have had the opportunity to see how countries with long traditions of free and fair elections organize election campaigns, voting and tabulation, and how they resolve disputes, whether at the polling station or through well-established institutional processes.
"I've had the opportunity to talk to public officials who've visited Vienna to learn about city administration and planning, for example, and they were effusive in their praise for on-site visits, noting that one can learn more about how a system really works by a short personal visit than from months of reading about it. When it comes to election observation in the United States, we have nothing to hide. In fact, we are proud of what we have to offer and believe others can learn from it."
- CNN: International team to monitor presidential election
- OSCE ODIHR Election Observation Mission to the United States
- BBC News: US vote 'mostly free and fair'
On "elastic sovereignty"
[In response to the question "What is your reaction to recent comments on the future of the OSCE from the leaders of many members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)?"]
"[...] What troubled me more in the statements was the extraordinary re-emergence, for the first time in many years, of a criticism that participating States have repeatedly agreed to lay to rest that of interference in internal affairs. In fact, I had to read it twice to be sure I was reading it right that s how surprising it was.
"Any discussion of the OSCE s fundamental documents must include what States actually committed themselves to in the Charter for European Security (1999) and the Moscow Document (1991). The former says: Participating States are accountable to their citizens and responsible to each other for their implementation of their OSCE commitments. We regard these commitments as our common achievement and therefore consider them to be matters of immediate and legitimate concern to all participating States.
"This language built upon the Moscow Document, which says: The participating States emphasize that issues relating to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law are of international concern, as respect for these rights and freedoms constitutes one of the foundations of the international order. They categorically and irrevocably declare that the commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension of the CSCE are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned.
"Concern expressed about States practices that violate OSCE commitments is not, therefore, an example of meddling in internal affairs; rather, it reflects what the Charter for European Security and the Moscow Document say the OSCE should be doing."